East Central makes National Signing Day history
East Central Head Football Coach Seth Smith says in 14 years of coaching he’s only had three guys go division I prior to this year. Today, the class of 2018 matched that number all by itself with another D1 trio putting pen to paper on National Signing Day, a record-setting ceremony for the Hornets punctuating the best season in school history.
The Hornets were no strangers to history in 2017 and that continued on National Signing Day 2018. A class of five overall and a program-best three players heading to the division I ranks. Tight end Brad Cumbest said, “Phew. The Good Lord has blessed us a bunch. Three Division I signees out of my class, went to the state championship. I mean there’s really nothing really bad about the whole situation.”
Brad Cumbest got the ball rolling back in December when the 6’6” tight end signed with Mississippi State during the first ever early signing period for high school athletes. “I mean it feels pretty good. I’m just ready to get up there and prove myself.”
Joining the future Bulldog on the D1 stage is a pair of South Alabama signees, running back Tony Brown and offensive lineman Wyatt Green. “It’s awesome. Me and them boys have been working hard together for the past six years and we grew up together and it’s just awesome being up there together and signing,” said Green.
Brown said, “It’s going to be a great experience for both of us going down there, we already know we’ve got somebody that’s got your back. Making new friends and just going through the experience together, it’s going to be great for both of us.”
The Jaguars were the only FBS team to offer both Brown and Green, which is especially surprising for the former. “Junior year I expected it, but that’s what kept me humble. All that it just kept my mind steady throughout the whole process and patience became a virtue,” said Brown.
Armed with that virtue, Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year accounted for 50 total touchdowns during his senior campaign, leading the Hornets all the way to the 4A state title game for the first time in school history. Even still, the offers never came rolling in like many expected they would, but Brown says better late than never. “I mean he just cut straight to the chase and it was an exciting feeling, I committed on the spot and it felt amazing,” said Brown.
Head Coach Seth Smith said, “It wouldn’t have mattered if they offered him this morning. He’s getting an opportunity and I have no doubt that he’ll go make the most of it, and there’ll be no bigger fan base for South Alabama than right here in Hurley.”
Rounding out the class of 2018 is the duo heading to Pearl River Community College quarterback Rylee Brown and free safety Andrew Seward. “Dreamed about it as a little kid, all of us have played together since we were four years old, we’ve all dreamed about it. For five of us to go get the opportunity to play for 2-4 more years, it’s just an amazing feeling,” said Seward.
Together, the signatures of these five special players are undeniable proof of the legendary season that was for the Hornets. “We turned heads. Like I said before, East Central was never on the winning side of football. And each week it just felt like more people knew who we were, and the more people wanted to come see us play,” said Brown.
“People didn’t think playing for a state championship was possible. And they sure didn’t think you’d have this many kids going on to play college football, but we don’t listen to what people say is impossible. We’re kind of I guess dreamers and have a vision and believe and work towards that and again fruits of our labor. You’re seeing it today,” said Coach Smith.
“We won’t never be forgotten and it’s a team to remember.”
East Central posted a record of 13-1 this season with the team’s lone loss coming at the hands of Noxubee County in the state championship game.